Grand Canyon National Park Opens Lottery for 2009 Non-commercial River Trips

Grand Canyon officials are now accepting applications for non-commercial trips through the canyon. NPS photo

If you've long wanted to run your own trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, now's the time to get your application in. Grand Canyon National Park officials are accepting lottery applications for 2009 non-commercial trips through February 27th.

Non-commercial permits were once the hardest thing to land on the planet, with waiting lists surpassing 10 years. But last year park officials reworked the system and came up with a new lottery program that is intended to make things more equitable for those wanting to run private trips through the canyon.

The applications now being accepted are for permits for specific launch dates within calendar year 2009. A total of 252 permits will be awarded for 12- to 25-day river trips. Eligible individuals may apply online at the weighted lottery web site found here.

Under the new guidelines, a main lottery is held each February to assign launch dates for river trips occurring the next year. Public notifications regarding main lotteries are made by both e-mail and press release. In addition to the annual main lottery, follow-up lotteries are held as needed throughout the remainder of the year to reassign canceled and/or left-over river trips. Public notifications for these follow-up lotteries are made solely through e-mail.

The weighted lottery web site can be accessed for free year-round to create or modify an account and to sign-up to receive email notifications. Individuals who are interested in a future river permit are strongly encouraged to create an account. Lottery applications are accepted through the weighted lottery web site only when lotteries are open.

Individuals must be 18 years or older to apply for a river trip permit. Noncommercial river trips must be self-guided, and technical whitewater experience is mandatory on each trip. Individuals may participate on a maximum of one river trip per year (commercial or noncommercial).

Individuals interested in professionally-guided river trips should not apply through the lottery, but instead request space on a commercial trip. A list of commercial companies offering guided trips can be found by visiting the commercial trip page on the park's website.